Opinion | Yesterday Today

UNVEILING: Governor Sir William Edward Davidson travelled to Bathurst to unveil the Evans Memorial in King's Parade.
UNVEILING: Governor Sir William Edward Davidson travelled to Bathurst to unveil the Evans Memorial in King's Parade.

Our photo shows His Excellency Governor Sir William Edward Davidson’s visit to Bathurst in late November 1920. He is seen here in front of the Bathurst Court House steps with local politicians and the mayor.

All are dressed in their finery, including the three ladies. The Governor was accompanied by his wife Dame Margaret Davidson, Mr Lamb (private secretary to the Governor) and Mr Jago-Smith, M.L.C. and Mrs Jago-Smith.

The Governor of New South Wales was visiting Bathurst to unveil the Evans Memorial in King’s Parade. The couple arrived on the train from Sydney to carry out their duties.

Sir Walter Edward Davidson, K.C.M.G., was born on April 20, 1859 and was a colonial administrator and diplomat. He served periods as Governor of the Seychelles and Governor of Newfoundland before becoming the Governor of New South Wales, where he died in office of cardiovascular disease. He married Margaret Feilding on October 21, 1907.

Sir Walter Davidson succeeded Sir Gerald Strickland and entered enthusiastically into the round of vice-regal duties presented to the couple.   

In front of a very large Bathurst crowd on Monday, November 29, 1920, the Governor and his wife were warmly received. It was Bathurst’s big day. The Governor rose to speak, stating that he “was most pleased to be in this most beautiful city”.

“I am glad you called it the Queen City of the west, because it is one of the most beautiful and laid out and cared for cities I have ever seen,” he said.

He went on to tell the gathering that they were giants in the early days, those men who forced their way through the almost impenetrable ravines of the Blue Mountains, and he would commend to their notice not only those fine men who found their way across the mountains, but those who blazed the trail, and those who followed in their footsteps, such as the gallant soldier the late Governor of New South Wales, Colonel Macquarie, who had stood behind all those men and treated the adventure of the Blue Mountains.

Here you have Evans, one of his best lieutenants of all, who found their way through the mountains, these explorers, but they did most important work in making roads to open up the country, he said. All new nations had to be opened up by road-ways and the roads made by Oxley and Evans were the forerunners of the penetration into this rich country. The progress is infinite, and although you still talk, as you are entitled to talk, about the lack of population and the great number of people you can still put on the land.

Colonel Macquarie, that gallant old Governor, was prodigiously pleased over the discovery. He wrote a letter to Lord Bathurst saying: “I might fairly and justly be proud of myself. We have increased Australia ten times by the penetration of the mountains.”

“Evans was one of the great men who made Australia, one of the giants of his day, one of the lighting men who built up the constitution of our country of which you are so proud to-day, and I will now add one more to the artistic and historic monuments of New South Wales by doing this opening,” the Governor said.

His Excellency then pulled the ribbons and revealed the tall statue. He added: “What a fine figure of a man, and what a very fine work. I hope every Australian who passes over this beautiful square will look up to this monument as a stalwart forerunner of a stalwart race and thank God that the planning and building of Australia fell to the Anglo-Saxon race.”

Bishop Long was then called upon to move a vote of thanks to the Governor for performing the unveiling of the Evans Memorial.

He felt the occasion was one that should be particularly driven home into the lives of the young people.

- Alan McRae is with the Bathurst District Historical Society